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Film Soundtracks - Released January 18, 1986 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 11, 1974 | SMSP

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released October 26, 1973 | Columbia - Legacy

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Head Hunters was a pivotal point in Herbie Hancock's career, bringing him into the vanguard of jazz fusion. Hancock had pushed avant-garde boundaries on his own albums and with Miles Davis, but he had never devoted himself to the groove as he did on Head Hunters. Drawing heavily from Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, and James Brown, Hancock developed deeply funky, even gritty, rhythms over which he soloed on electric synthesizers, bringing the instrument to the forefront in jazz. It had all of the sensibilities of jazz, particularly in the way it wound off into long improvisations, but its rhythms were firmly planted in funk, soul, and R&B, giving it a mass appeal that made it the biggest-selling jazz album of all time (a record which was later broken). Jazz purists, of course, decried the experiments at the time, but Head Hunters still sounds fresh and vital decades after its initial release, and its genre-bending proved vastly influential on not only jazz, but funk, soul, and hip-hop. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 15, 1976 | Columbia - Legacy

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Having long since established his funk credentials, Herbie Hancock continues the direction of Head Hunters and its U.S. successors here, welding himself to the groove on electric keyboards while Bennie Maupin again shines sardonic beams of light on a variety of reeds. In "Doin' It," the most successful track, Hancock makes a more overt bid for the dancefloor, for the tune is basically one long irresistible groove with a very commercial-sounding bridge. Again Hancock chooses to recompose one of his standards; [RoviLink="MC"]"Cantelope [sic] Island"[/RoviLink] is almost unrecognizable converted into a sauntering, swaggering thing. A streamlining process has set in -- the drumming has been simplified, some of the old high-voltage drive has been muted -- yet there are still enough enjoyable, intelligently musical things happening here to hold a Hancock admirer's attention. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released September 27, 1988 | Columbia

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Perhaps the funkiest album of Herbie Hancock's early- to mid-'70s jazz/funk/fusion era, Man-Child starts off with the unforgettable "Hang Up Your Hang Ups," and the beat just keeps coming until the album's end. "Sun Touch" and "Bubbles" are slower, but funky nonetheless. Hancock is the star on his arsenal of keyboards, but guitarist Wah Wah Watson's presence is what puts a new sheen on this recording, distinguishing it from its predecessors, Head Hunters and Thrust. Others among the all-star cast of soloists and accompanists include Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica, and longtime Hancock cohort Bennie Maupin on an arsenal of woodwinds. ~ Jim Newsom
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released September 6, 1974 | Columbia - Legacy

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The follow-up to the breakthrough Headhunters album was virtually as good as its wildly successful predecessor: an earthy, funky, yet often harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated tour de force. There is only one change in the Headhunters lineup -- swapping drummer Harvey Mason for Mike Clark -- and the switch results in grooves that are even more complex. Hancock continues to reach into the rapidly changing high-tech world for new sounds, most notably the metallic sheen of the then-new ARP string synthesizer which was already becoming a staple item on pop and jazz-rock records. Again, there are only four long tracks, three of which ("Palm Grease," "Actual Proof," "Spank-A-Lee") concentrate on the funk, with plenty of Hancock's wah-wah clavinet, synthesizer textures and effects, and electric piano ruminations that still venture beyond the outer limits of post-bop. The change-of-pace is one of Hancock's loveliest electric pieces, "Butterfly," a match for any tune he's written before or since, with shimmering synth textures and Bennie Maupin soaring on soprano (Hancock would re-record it 20 years later on Dis Is Da Drum, but this is the one to hear). This supertight jazz-funk quintet album still sounds invigorating a quarter of a century later. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released March 26, 1991 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released October 1, 1980 | Contemporary Jazz Masters

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Herbie Hancock's lackluster string of electric albums around this period was enhanced by this one shining exception: an incorrigibly eclectic record that flits freely all over the spectrum. Using several different rhythm sections, Herbie Hancock is much more the imaginative hands-on player than at any time since the prime Headhunters period, overdubbing lots of parts from his ever-growing collection of keyboards. He has regained a good deal of his ability to ride in the groove. "Calypso" finds him playing synthesized steel drums and interacting with customary complexity and ebullience with V.S.O.P. mates Tony Williams and Ron Carter. Disco rears its head, but inventively this time on "Just Around the Corner," and in league with Jaco Pastorius' vibrating, interlacing bass, Hancock gets off some good, updated jazz-funk on "Spiraling Prism" and "4 AM." There is even a reunion of the original Headhunters on a rhythmically tangled remake of "Shiftless Shuffle"; drummer Harvey Mason sounds like a rhythm machine gone bonkers. Easily the outstanding track -- and one of Hancock's most haunting meditations -- is "Textures," where he plays all of the instruments himself. This would be the last outcropping of electronic delicacy from Hancock for some time, and it was mostly -- and unjustly -- overlooked when it came out. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Obviously these three have known each other since the playground days − almost at least… During the summer of 1977, the ex-virtuosos of Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet locked themselves up in the Automatt, a studio in San Francisco, to remind those who may have forgotten how perfect their complicity could sound. These sessions gave birth to two albums: Third Plane with Milestone and Herbie Hancock Trio with Columbia. Same story five years later with a similar exercise released under the title Herbie Hancock Trio With Ron Carter & Tony Williams. Each of them included a personal theme (Dolphin Dance for Hancock, Slight Smile for Carter and Maison Goree for Williams) between two classics (Benny Golson’s Stable Mates and That Old Black Magic by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer), creating a particularly refined atmosphere. The three friends obviously put on hold their fusion/jazz-rock inclinations that had defined their music since the mid-1970s, and went back to a sort of velvety, woody-flavoured hard pop. The (new) revolution clearly wasn’t yet on the agenda. But robust swing and inspired improvisations clearly were! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Recorded after the funky fusion of Head Hunters, Thrust, Sextant, and other electric albums, and before the dawn of "Rockit" and more commercially viable and hip-hop-oriented material, Herbie Hancock took time out in 1978 to touch base again with his piano. Recorded completely solo, this set was issued only in Japan as the truly awful Feets, Don't Fail Me Now was issued stateside. A curious set, the first half of the album features Hancock playing jazz standards in truly elegant and restrained fashion. His treatments of "My Funny Valentine," "Green Dolphin Street," and "Someday My Prince Will Come" -- all tracks he performed as part of the Miles Davis Quintet -- are elongated, morphed, and beautifully woven together as a suite. The latter half of the recording is comprised of four tracks, "Harvest Time," "Sonrisa," "Manhattan Island," and "Blue Otani," all of which are originals. These pieces are concerned with Hancock's preoccupation with the piano as a solo instrument. They are composed as formalist treatments that are extrapolated upon at several different junctures, or "turning points," within them. They embody notions of classical music à la Anton Webern, blues, Erroll Garner's lyrical phrasing, and Bill Evans' harmonic sensibilities. They are, in sum, inseparable from one another and are usually performed as a suite. This is a stunning triumph for Hancock, and it's too bad that the album has never been issued in the U.S., as it would undoubtedly be a popular addition to his vast catalog. About the closest one can come are the tracks from here included in The Herbie Hancock Box. Maybe someday. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released June 15, 1978 | Columbia

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After Man-Child, alas, Herbie Hancock's American jazz-funk records in the 1970s grew gradually more commercial, less stimulating, and crucially, less truly funky with each release, even as his equipment rack grew larger. Just take a look at the staggering collection of keyboards on the back cover of the Sunlight LP -- all sought-after collectors' items now -- yet Hancock makes so little use of their possibilities here. For much of the album, he seems most interested in establishing a new career as an electronic vocalist. "I Thought It Was You," "Come Running to Me," and the title track introduce the ghostly, gauzy sound of Herbie's singing voice as heard through a vocoder; there's even an electronic Herbie scat choir. Stevie Wonder, he's not. There are still occasional splashes of Hancock harmonic color on the keyboards, but he also relies upon superfluous, self-arranged brass riffs and string backgrounds. The backup bands shift from track to track, from combinations of Headhunters alumni that offer soft-focused facsimiles of the old funk drive to a surprisingly strait-jacketed pairing of Tony Williams and Jaco Pastorius on the eccentric "Good Question." ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Herbie Hancock's debut as a leader, Takin' Off, revealed a composer and pianist able to balance sophistication and accessibility, somewhat in the vein of Blue Note's prototype hard bopper Horace Silver. Yet while Hancock could be just as funky and blues-rooted as Silver, their overall styles diverged in several ways: Hancock was lighter and more cerebral, a bit more adventurous in his harmonies, and more apt to break his solos out of a groove (instead of using them to create one). So even if, in retrospect, Takin' Off is among Hancock's most conventional albums, it shows a young stylist already strikingly mature for his age, and one who can interpret established forms with spirit and imagination. Case in point: the simple, catchy "Watermelon Man," which became a Hancock signature tune and a jazz standard in the wake of a hit cover by Latin jazz star Mongo Santamaria. Hancock's original version is classic Blue Note hard bop: spare, funky piano riffing and tight, focused solo statements. The other compositions are memorable and well-constructed too (if not quite hit material); all have their moments, but particular highlights include the ruminative ballad "Alone and I," the minor-key "The Maze" (which features a little bit of free improvisation in the rhythm section), and the bluesy "Empty Pockets." The backing group includes then up-and-coming trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Billy Higgins. All in all, Takin' Off is an exceptional first effort, laying the groundwork for Hancock to begin pushing the boundaries of hard bop on his next several records. ~ Steve Huey
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Jazz - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters take to the road in the live double album Flood, recorded and released only in Japan. Contrary to the impression left by his American releases at this time, Hancock was still very much attached to the acoustic piano, as his erudite opening workout on "Maiden Voyage/Actual Proof" with his funk rhythm section makes clear. The electric keyboards, mostly Rhodes piano and clavinet, make their first appearances on side two, where Hancock now becomes more of a funky adjunct to the rhythm section, bumping along with a superb feeling for the groove while Bennie Maupin takes the high road above on a panoply of winds. Except for "Voyage," the tunes come from the Head Hunters, Thrust, and Man-Child albums (another reason why this was not released in the U.S.). "Chameleon" comes with a lengthy outbreak of machine pink noise that attests to Hancock's wide-eyed love of gadgetry. In all, this was a great funk band, not all that danceable because of the rapid complexities of Mike Clark's drumming, and quite often, full of harmonic depth and adventure. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released January 5, 1983 | Columbia

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